FSM eyes coconut export industry
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
The Federated States of Micronesia has completed the blueprint to develop the coconut sector into a stable industry, which is estimated to yield $10 million in annual revenue.
“The FSM is an aspiring newcomer to the global market for value-added coconut products,” according to a press release from the office of the FSM president. “The FSM government’s aim is to develop the coconut sector into one of its top export industries.”
Outgoing President David Panuelo endorsed the FSM Coconut National Export Strategy 2023–2028 (CocoNES) following a briefing by Elina Akinaga, secretary of the Department of Resources & Development, on May 1.
Panuelo, whose term ends on May 11, launched the FSM CocoNES on Nov. 1, 2021 through a presidential order that formalized the institutional framework for the national export strategy for coconut products.
“ A successful export strategy will result in sustainable supply chains that will bring our very own coconut products from local farmers out to the World,” Panuelo said in a statement issued on Nov. 17, 2021. “The mission is to make this happen successfully and to translate that success into sustainable incomes and food security for families across this paradise in our backyards.”
The president's directive created the Advisory Body, the Sector Development Coalition and the Secretariat.
“In the time since, there have been multiple bilateral stakeholders’ meetings and working sessions, and two rounds of stakeholders’ consultations in each of the FSM’s states,” the office of the president said.
“An extensive participatory process culminated into the first-ever sector-specific blueprint to develop the coconut sector into a stable industry for the well-being of the FSM’s communities,” it added.
Panuelo amended the presidential order, expanding the composition of the Coconut Advisory Body, and clarifying the duties of the Secretariat.
The secretary of the Department of Health & Social Affairs and a representative from the private sector operating in the coconut supply chain are now part of the advisory panel.
In the original presidential order, the FSM Petroleum Corp./Vital formed the Secretariat charged with "generic" duties such as providing "operational and administrative support to the overall CocoNES framework” and "keeping meeting minutes."
In the amended presidential order, the Secretariat is tasked with managing CocoNES’ “strategy implementation tool” and tracking the progress of the industry’s progress.
The move to resuscitate the nation’s dormant coconut export industry involves tapping local families and farmers to be at the frontline of production.
Coconut products manufactured in FSM include hair and body oil, soap, shampoo, suntan lotion, cooking oil, coconut jam and coco cones.
According to a 2018 report posted on the Coconut Community website,
copra production in FSM began declining in the early 1990s.
"During the last five years, the production has dropped from 700 tons to about 115 tons in 2005," reads the report written by Catalino Sam, chairman of the now-defunct FSM Coconut Development Authority.
Sam attributed the drop in copra production to massive damage caused by typhoon Sudal as well as the cash relief received by residents through emergency grant programs.